Hanwei’s Ninjato – the Best Ninja Sword?

"Hanwei Forge make the best Ninja Sword", is something I had heard repeated numerous times on various forums.

These people were not necessarily referring to 'authentic' ninja swords. And there were far more posts claiming that ‘these swords are pure Hollywood and never existed historically’, but that is not what I am talking about –- and in this case - – not particularly interested in...

What I mean that many people considered this to be the best Ninja sword from a purely functional, tactical point of view...

Something that a modern day special operative would have no hesitation strapping to their back, along with an assortment of other ‘tools of the trade’. And yet at the same time something that also celebrated the easily recognizable classic Ninja sword from countless games and movies...

With this in mind, it was only natural that I decided to take the plunge and try one out for myself to see how they really stacked up.

Hanwei’ Forge Practical Ninjato

Review by SBG Editor in Chief, Paul Southren

Steel    
Weight
Point of Balance    
Price Range

1065 Carbon Steel
2.03lbs
4.52"
US$239-355

My first impression upon opening the classic sytrofoam lined Hanwei box was that this sword was an appropriate tribute to the popular conception of a Hollywood Ninja sword. And overall – it was actually pretty tastefully done...

The saya (scabbard) was probably the first thing that caught my eye. It is actually quite a piece of art in its own right and easily the best ninja sword saya that I have seen.

With an adjustable back-strap tethered by two demonic entities that look like a strange ape/bulldog hybrid holding the fastening rings in their mouths, it compliments this sword very well. That said, I must admit though that I do not know how to adjust it to make it wearable (so much for those Ninjutsu 101 lessons!), though as yet – I haven’t really tried either...

The iron tsuba is also quite fancy. Shaped in the classical square ‘Ninja’ hand guard style, it gives a clear nod to the best Ninja sword mystical traditions, depicting several ‘secret’ hand positions (kuji-kiri) used in what is effectively Japanese magic.

The only problem is, the tsuka handle itself was a little bit disappointing...

While it is available in two choices of faux Ray skin (black or white), I can’t really recommend the white one that I ended up with. It is simply too white to look anything even remotely close to real ray-skin, and feels very ‘plasticy’ and spongy to the touch.

Another issue with the handle is that the ito wrap is also quite a bit looser than what I had hoped for. Made of some kind of black suede like material, while it’s comfortable and functional enough - the diamonds are far too big for my liking, showing far too much of that nasty white ‘ray-skin’ than is prudent...

Anyway, if I was selecting this sword over again I think I would have gone with the black version.

The only possible problem with the black one would be that extremely attractive the menuki ornaments, which depict a Buddhist three pronged trident, may not show as well against a dark background. But overall, I think the aesthetics would suit black better. After all, the best Ninja swords wouldn’t want to reflect white in the shadows of the night now would they...?

Anyway, with the koshirae (fittings) aside, it was time to have a good look at the blade. And as soon as I did, I began to understand why this blade had the reputation as the best Ninja sword on the market...

THE BLADE

The blade of the Hanwei Practical Ninjato is simply stunning. Words and pictures simply don’t do this blade justice – you really have to see it for yourself. And well over a month after getting this sword, I still find myself drawing it just to have a peek...

Essentially, though words fail to capture its essence, the 22” blade consists of three different but beautifully combined levels of polish of differentially hardened 1065 carbon steel with the back flat section of the blade (Shinogi-ji) is polished to a perfect mirror finish and clearly defined from the sloping middle section (ji), which is a very attractive satiny grain pattern.

But it gets even better. Because as you follow the ji down towards the edge, it changes again into a beautiful frosty white REAL hamon – which is easily the best ninja sword hamon on the market.

Naturally, being differentially hardened, this sword is very sharp – and it is obvious that it will be a good cutter just by touching the blade. But the wickedly sharp and angular reinforced kissaski tip tells another story.

Because by nature of its design, there is little doubt that it excels as a thrusting weapon and combines the best of two worlds. After all, the best Ninja sword must be versatile and able to kill an opponent suddenly and with a minimum of fuss, so as to prevent altering others nearby to the Ninja’s presence when he strikes...

HANDLING

Weighing in at 2.03lbs on my kitchen scales with a point of balance 4.52” from the tsuba, this sword is FAST. And I don’t mean just FAST, I mean super fast!

Speed and handling combined with sharpness and edge retention is a deadly combination for a sword. And it is these two characteristics alone that make this the best Ninja sword currently in production.

Due to its relatively short blade, this sword could be used indoors or outdoors equally. And while I hesitate to point this out for legal reasons, from a self defence perspective, I have to say that this really is the best Ninja sword to keep under the bed to ambush someone who broke into your house at night...

It really does have a very ‘tactical’ feel to it. So much so that it actually unnerves me a little, especially after having put this mean little sword to the test...

CUTTING RESULTS

Now as I said before, the best Ninja sword must be able to cut and thrust with equal effectiveness. Thus, my tests had to evaluate both of these functions with equal measure.

For a bit of fun more than a serious test to determine if this really was the best ninja sword on the market or not, my first target was a nice fresh juicy watermelon. And as you can see from the video below, the slice was very clean creating an ‘instant fruit salad’.

VIDEO: Instant Ninjato Fruit Salad!


In case you are wondering, we ate the watermelon afterwards, so the blade was cleaned of any not-so-tasty oil before cutting

Moving on, I set up three jumbo sized milk cartons, filled them with water – and thrust the sword through all three in one easy motion.

Not surprisingly, as you might expect from a Best Ninja sword candidate, the point pierced easily and went nearly all the way up to the hilt before the momentum of my thrust pushed the three large cartons along the wooden table.

Satisfied, I proceeded to follow up with a quick cut to each container – slicing each one in two with an absolute bare minimum of force, with these tests shown in the youtube video below.

So far, so good.. But I had hardly challenged this blade.

The time had come to devise a way to REALLY test if this was the best Ninja sword for both cutting and thrusting equally.

For cutting, the natural choice of target was also one of my favourites. Japanese dojo quality Tatami Omote from Tameshigiri.com wrapped around a core of river cane bamboo...

Now as you may know, a target with these dimensions is a traditional Japanese test medium that approximates the consistency of a human wrist or arm...

If the Hanwei Ninja-to could consistently cut this target without any trouble – then as far as cutting goes, the title of the best Ninja sword on the market was there for the taking.

The first cut went on through without breaking a sweat, quickly followed by a second. The mat and bamboo was cleanly severed with a minimum of fuss. Cutting through the bottom on the third cut, the mat unravelled and I proceeded to evenly slice the bamboo core by itself for a couple of strikes. I began work on a second mat, and it really didn’t seem that this target was offering ANY real resistance...

...And when you consider that we are talking about a target that approximates a human wrist, THAT is downright scary.

I paused for a moment, took the blade in one hand – and without ANY real force, let the blade do ALL the work and proceeded to slice through twice with the same feeling.

This sword was really beginning to scare me!

The title of the best Ninja sword for cutting was clearly Hanwei’s for the taking!

But what about thrusting...? What was the best way to test how deeply this blade penetrated...

I thought about it for a minute or two. And then it occurred to me...

A while back I had tested a few swords against an old scuffed up punching bag. And when it came to the thrust, the layers of rags inside would rapidly bunch up against it, limiting the penetration to around a couple of inches on average...

THIS would do perfectly to see how it REALLY performed.

Going into the test, I was pretty confident. But what happened next, well...

...I think the video footage pretty much speaks for itself!!

I was blown away! After this test there was NO doubt whatsoever that this was the best Ninja sword for stabbing and thrusting by a country mile...

But combined with the previous cutting tests, it had proven itself to be the best Ninja sword all round...

With a one handed cut, it could take off a hand. And with a thrust, it would pop right through the other side of an opponent! In short, if I was a modern day Ninja, THIS would be the best Ninja sword I would take with me on my ‘black operations’...

CONCLUSION

As a tribute to the Hollywood Ninja, this sword fills that role without going too far and becoming tacky.

There aren’t images of black Pyjama clad assassins throwing shuriken anywhere – and nor should they be. This sword is a lot classier than that.

But more so when it comes to functionality, it is obviously the best Ninja sword on the market. No other straight bladed Ninja sword even comes close.

Sure, it has a few flaws – notably the slight looseness of the wrap and the ugly white synthetic ray-skin (like I said before – get the Black one!). But the actual blade itself is a real champion. Fast, amazingly effective and about as deadly as they come – it is easy to underestimate this blade from its appearance alone, and I have to say, especially considering the US$200 price point, it is definitely one of Hanwei’'s best all purpose blades.

PROS

  • Sharp, fast and extremely versatile
  • Amazing penetrative power

CONS

  • Ito wrap is a little loose
  • Blade is very sharp, but not extremely durable and may be damaged or chipped if it accidentally contacts hard targets

WHERE TO BUY

While the official Hanwei/CAS Iberia MSRP for the Ninja-to is US$355, few online stores sell it for this much - and for that price, I would probably never have bought it myself either.

However one of the most respected sword sellers on the internet, Kult of Athena, have what are easily the lowest prices on these swords: stocking both the white version here and the black version here both for a much more reasonable US$239 each.


I hope this information on what is easily the best Ninja sword on the market has been helpful. To return to Ninja Swords Online from Hanwei’s Ninjato – the Best Ninja Sword?, click here

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